Hive Times: Exploring The Hive Mind Concept

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It’s been said that you are only as good as the company you keep. This holds true at work, at home, and with all of your interactions. But, did you know that the people that you hang around can also influence your behavior in surprising ways?

The “Hive Mind,” or “Group Mind,” is a phenomenon that occurs when people come together. It can be positive, negative, or neutral, depending on the situation – think a Google think tank vs. a group of white supremacists. Both groups will have profound impacts on their respective members, but the results couldn’t be more different.

Interestingly, the “Hive Mind Mentality,” affects us on both conscious and unconscious levels. Let’s take a closer look at these two paradigms.

Conscious Conforming

Probably, the most famous experiment demonstrating the effect of conscious conforming is known as the Asch Experiment. Conducted in 1951, Solomon Asch developed this experiment to find out whether social pressure would lead people to answer questions incorrectly.

Asch tested 50 college students at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, by putting each student with a group of 7 confederates who were in on the experiment. The students being tested were told that they were participating in a vision test, but really they were being observed to see if they conformed to their peers.

The students were shown two cards, one with a single line on it, and the other with three lines on it. The students were then asked to the match the single line to the correct line amongst the three. Sounds kind of confusing here, but in each test, the answer was obvious.

Confederates gave their answers first, so that when it was time for the participant to answer, he sometimes just witnessed 7 people giving the wrong answer to an obvious question.

The results were striking. Almost 75% of participants gave a wrong answer after seeing everyone else answer incorrectly, with only 25% of participants sticking with their correct answers. In a control group where there was no peer pressure to confirm, only 1% answered incorrectly.

After the experiment, participants were asked why they conformed to the group mentality during these tests. The most common reasons were: 1) Wanting to fit in, and 2) Believing that they were wrong and the group was right.

Unconscious Conforming

In the example above, people consciously chose to change their answers to fit the group. But, according to Carl Jung, we all experience thoughts, memories, and ideas from the collective unconscious – the part of our brains that connects us to all other beings throughout space and time. It’s the collective unconscious, Jung postulates, that is responsible for sensory experiences such as deja vu, and telepathy.

Think this sounds a little willy nilly? Check out this research from Burning Man, where a statistically significant effect of Group Mind was found.

Here at Therapy Hive, we want the company that you keep to be as consciously, and unconsciously, fantastic as you are! Contact us for more details on how to join our Hive, and keep your Group Mind productive and growth focused!

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